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Hackers Linked to Luminosity RAT Targeted by Law Enforcement

Europol’s European Cybercrime Centre (EC3) and the UK’s National Crime Agency (NCA) on Monday released the details of an international law enforcement operation targeting sellers and users of the Luminosity Trojan.

Over a dozen law enforcement agencies from Europe, the US and Australia took part in a joint campaign carried out in September 2017 – details are made public only now due to operational reasons.

Authorities in the United Kingdom learned of Luminosity, also known as LuminosityLink, back in September 2016 when they arrested an individual suspected of hacking-related offences as part of a separate investigation.

That individual’s arrest led to an international operation that, according to Europol and the NCA, resulted in Luminosity no longer being available and no longer working for those who purchased it.

Since September, law enforcement agencies executed arrests, search warrants, and cease and desist notifications across Europe, America and Australia, targeting both sellers and users of Luminosity. The NCA said a small network of individuals in the UK was responsible for the distribution of the remote access trojan (RAT) to more than 8,600 buyers across 78 countries.

Luminosity first emerged in May 2015 and it had been available for purchase for as little as $40. The RAT allowed hackers to easily take complete control of infected computers, including disable security software, log keystrokes, steal passwords and other data, and spy on victims via the device’s webcam.

Luminosity RAT was one of the pieces of malware used last year by Nigerian cybercriminals in attacks aimed at industrial firms.

Investigators have identified passwords, photos, videos and other data stolen from thousands of victims, but the number is expected to increase significantly as devices seized from suspects continue to be analyzed. The NCA said police seized more than 100 devices during the operation in the UK.

“The sale and deployment of this hacking tool were uncovered following a single arrest and the subsequent forensic examination of the computer,” said Detective Inspector Ed Heath, head of the South West Regional Cyber Crime Unit, which led the investigation. “More than a year’s complex work with international policing partners led us to identify a large number of offenders.”

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Eduard Kovacs (@EduardKovacs) is a contributing editor at SecurityWeek. He worked as a high school IT teacher for two years before starting a career in journalism as Softpedia’s security news reporter. Eduard holds a bachelor’s degree in industrial informatics and a master’s degree in computer techniques applied in electrical engineering.